Politico's Ben Smith is reporting that former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has returned to the behind-closed-doors political spotlight and is helping Texas Governor Rick Perry with his 2012 White House bid, which at this point is still in the advanced hypothetical stages.

National Review first reported that Perry attended a briefing on foreign policy and national security last week in Austin with "former Rumsfeld aides Doug Feith, Daniel Fata, and William Luti, as well as the magazine's Andrew McCarthy." Ben Smith says that while Perry's camp has been "tight-lipped" about who put the confab together, it was actually Rumsfeld who "helped steer Perry's staff to the low-key advisory group." Rumsfeld spokesman Karl Urbahn's email response on the subject seemed almost deliberately opaque.

Governor Perry's staff recently reached out to our office for names of national security and foreign policy experts that Mr. Rumsfeld respects and trusts. To Mr. Rumsfeld's knowledge, Governor Perry's staff selected the individuals who attended last week's briefing in Austin, Texas.

Mr. Rumsfeld and Governor Perry have not spoken or met recently, though Mr. Rumsfeld has met with a number of Republican presidential candidates over the past months. He is watching the current field with interest and is particularly interested in the candidates' positions on foreign and national security policy and their prospects in winning in November 2012.

"A number of the presidential candidates"! In other words, he'll have options if Perry decides not to run. And even if he does run, that's not a guarantee. Smith notes that "Perry and Rumsfeld know each other, but don't have a particularly close relationship."